Why Keep Kosher?


Why Keep Kosher?

Since the earliest stages of our history, Jews have understood the patterns of (the dietary laws) to be at the very center of our heritage. Jews have sacrificed their lives rather than desecrate themselves with ‘treif‘ (non-kosher) food.

Why Keep Kosher?

From the biblical and into the rabbinical period, new guidelines and restrictions developed as Jews encountered different cuisines and aesthetic standards, yet the core of kashrut has remained unchanged over the millennia.

Some of our most stirring stories of Jewish martyrdom — of Jews who preferred to lay down their lives rather than abandon their Judaism — center around the laws of kashrut.

Thus, as early as the time of the Maccabees (167 B.C.E.), we have stories of Jews forced to eat pork by the Syrian oppressors. In those stirring tales, the Jews chose to die with their integrity intact, to expire still obedient to the dictates of God and Torah. They could not conceive of a Judaism without kashrut, so central were the dietary laws to the entire rhythm of Jewish living.

Why, then, is kashrut significant? If not health or physical well-being, what is the goal of the dietary laws? The answer is found in the Torah itself. “You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I [the Lord] am holy.”

Kashrut is a way of welcoming the holiness of Judaism into our daily lives. At each meal, we rededicate ourselves to the high standards of Jewish living and behavior.

The network of Jewish values — loving our neighbor, caring for the widow and orphan, affirming a connection to the Jewish people, and establishing God’s rule on earth — gain strength and depth through the regular practice of kashrut.